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Eco-Innovation in Action: How Zentive Agency is Redefining Sustainable Events
Written by: Carolyn Young
Carolyn Young is a business writer who focuses on entrepreneurial concepts and the business formation. She has over 25 years of experience in business roles, and has authored several entrepreneurship textbooks.
Published on November 9, 2023
Updated on November 14, 2023
Welcome to our interview with Dominic Richards, the visionary behind Zentive Agency — a trailblazing sustainable events agency rooted in the heart of London. As an advocate for eco-consciousness in the event industry, Dominic has carved out a unique niche, leading a company that not only orchestrates memorable events but also ensures they leave a positive imprint on the planet.
Zentive Agency stands out for its commitment to sustainability, focusing on responsible event processes, meticulous supply chain management, and rigorous carbon measurement and offsetting. Their mission? To transform the event landscape by infusing every celebration, conference, and corporate gathering with environmentally sound practices without compromising on the client’s vision.
For those eager to connect with Dominic and his innovative team or to learn more about their services and the ethos that drives them, Zentive Agency’s digital footprint offers a wealth of information and updates.
For the latest news, insights, and sustainable event tips, follow Zentive Agency on Twitter, and join their Facebook community. To delve into the company’s professional background and network, visit their LinkedIn page. Plus, to get a comprehensive overview of their business acumen and industry presence, check out their Crunchbase profile.
Join us as we engage with Dominic on the journey of Zentive Agency, the challenges and triumphs of promoting sustainability in the events space, and gather his invaluable insights for aspiring entrepreneurs looking to make a difference in this dynamic industry.
The Genesis of Zentive Agency
SBS – Can you share with us the inspiration behind Zentive Agency and how you identified the niche of sustainable event management?
Dominic – After spending a large amount of time in the events industry, a friend and I saw first-hand how damaging events can be to the environment. Large amounts of food waste, tons of flights and travel to get delegates to the venue, and leftover waste from set builds — just to name a few. Although sustainability was a topic within a few agencies in the UK, we didn’t think enough was being done. Therefore, we created Zentive to solve the problem.
The events we created and delivered for our clients were going to have sustainability at the forefront. We would proactively make changes to increase the sustainability of the event and reduce carbon emissions from the offset. Whilst doing this, we would also encourage similar behaviour in the industry and act as a changemaker and source of knowledge for those who wanted to go in a similar direction.
SBS – What were the initial challenges you faced while integrating sustainability into event management, and how did you overcome them?
Dominic – The two main areas that come to mind are budget and behaviour. Sustainably sourced products and services are typically more expensive than traditional goods. Working with clients with limited budgets proved difficult, but we were able to make suggestions and also provide low-cost alternatives for many elements of an event. We had to be creative and innovative to solve this issue, and we often found that when it was discussed, we found solutions.
This is when we decided to dedicate time (in weekly project meetings) solely to sustainability and how to make the event better for the environment. In many of our events, we are also tasked with the challenge of changing delegate behaviour. Whether this be to have vegetarian options for dinner or taking low-carbon travel (which is often longer), persuading delegates to change from their normal way of doing things is always tricky. However, if you explain the reasoning behind the choices, they are often very accommodating.
SBS – Sustainability is a broad term. Could you elaborate on what sustainability means for Zentive Agency, particularly in your processes and supply chain management?
Dominic – As a business that was built on environmental sustainability values, sustainability runs through the core of everything we do. We are constantly making adjustments and updates to our event management processes to ensure our events are as sustainable as possible. We think of sustainability as an ever-changing, ever-evolving subject, and that’s why we like to always bring it to the forefront of discussion when speaking with suppliers and clients.
We have a supplier sourcing code that is currently being reviewed to bring it up to the best standard possible. This is our way of vetting suppliers to ensure they follow the same values and are doing their bit to reduce their impact on the environment. We truly believe this is what every company should be doing in the current circumstances.
Carbon Footprint Accounting
SBS – How do you measure the carbon footprint of the events you organize, and what are some of the most effective ways you’ve found to offset these emissions?
Dominic – We use an event-specific carbon calculator to measure the emissions of an event. This is typically divided into the following areas: energy, production, graphics, food & beverage, waste management, event transport, audience and staff travel & accommodation.
We collect this data during the registration process as well as through our relationship with venues and suppliers. We want to reduce our emissions as much as possible before offsetting, but once the total carbon footprint is calculated, there are a number of ways to offset. These range from reforestation and conservation, renewable energy projects, waste to energy, and community projects such as introducing sustainable technologies and methods to developing communities. These projects not only offset the carbon but can also contribute to social and economic benefits for developing nations.
SBS – With sustainability being a key focus for many businesses today, how do you ensure that Zentive Agency stays ahead of the curve in both innovation and implementation of sustainable practices?
Dominic – I guess it all comes down to being proactive in learning and discussing about it. As I said before, it is an ever-evolving subject, and I think you have to keep your eye on the latest developments whilst always being creative in coming up with solutions.
Case Study Spotlight
SBS – Could you discuss a particular event that posed significant sustainability challenges and how your team managed to deliver on your promise?
Dominic – Every event has sustainability challenges due to the nature of the event. We often find that we have challenges with venues that have a certain way of doing things and aren’t as flexible with our sustainable suggestions. As an event is quite restricted by the venue’s limitations, this can have a knock-on effect. This is why it is so important to choose an eco-friendly venue that is open to doing things differently.
Vetting for Values
SBS – What criteria do you use to select vendors and partners to ensure they align with your sustainability goals?
Dominic – We have developed a sustainable sourcing code that vets suppliers and venues. For venues, this looks at areas such as eco-friendly materials, certifications such as LEED and BREAAM, energy-saving systems and measures, renewable energy tariffs, and organic catering. For suppliers, we look at their sustainability policy and how they conduct their business operations, including offices, transport, and manufacturing.
Evolving Client Perceptions
SBS – How has the perception of sustainability in event management changed among your clients over the years, and how has this impacted your business approach?
Dominic – Sustainability has definitely increased in popularity over the years. Every hotel/venue now has sustainability policies, agencies are focusing on it as a high priority, and it is often a hot topic during industry conferences and trade shows. I think that the focus on sustainability in worldwide media has helped this, as well as a younger generation being brought into the industry. I hope it continues! We have always focused on sustainability, and as a young company, I think the only impact on business has been the desire to keep doing what we’re doing!
SBS – In terms of marketing, how do you communicate the value of sustainable event management to potential clients who might be more accustomed to traditional methods?
Dominic – Our branding and marketing is very much focused on sustainability, as we want our potential clients to know the way we work. If a company comes to us, they should know that we will look to reduce emissions of the event from the offset. Therefore, those looking for a blow-out event involving first-class flights and helicopter rides might have to look elsewhere. Although these potential clients might be used to traditional methods, you would hope that if they come to us for support, they are willing to change their ways for a more responsible event that produces a positive impact on the world.
Blueprint for Beginners
SBS – What advice would you give to someone who is looking to start a business in the sustainable event space? Are there any specific skills or knowledge areas they should focus on?
Dominic – I would definitely advise doing your research first. It is very easy to be labelled as greenwashing. Reach out to sustainable industry bodies, read up on sustainability articles in industry magazines, and go to conferences/exhibitions that focus on the subject.
SBS – Can you talk about a significant obstacle or failure you encountered and how you turned it into a learning experience for your business?
Dominic – Once, we had an event where we were looking to redistribute the surplus food after the event had ended. As it was a complex venue to navigate, the team who arrived couldn’t find the surplus, and therefore it had to be binned. Now, when bringing in an external team to redistribute food, we always connect them with the venue team beforehand, as well as write detailed briefs to ensure everyone is on the same page.
SBS – What strategies have you found to be most successful in growing Zentive Agency’s client base in such a specialized field?
Dominic – Word of mouth and content marketing have been really helpful in growing our client base. We are an agency in a niche field, but I truly believe that most companies can benefit from a sustainable event manager. We put a lot of time into producing resources and information around the subject, and we hope that this helps both companies and individuals create sustainable events whilst also boosting our brand and reputation.
SBS – Looking towards the future, what developments or trends do you see shaping the sustainable event management industry, and how is Zentive Agency preparing to adapt?
Dominic – Measurement of carbon emissions and relevant data will become a standard across all events. Zentive Agency already calculates the carbon of all events it delivers and uses this information to make informed decisions about future events. I also believe suppliers will start to become more innovative in this field, and therefore, it’s crucial to always be on the lookout for new and creative companies who can support you. If you’re one of them, hit me up!
Eco-Innovation in Action: How Zentive Agency is Redefining Sustainable Events
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